Shyamsunder Panchavati

Shyamsunder Panchavati
Linkedin now a follower of Shyam on twitter

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

When work is virtual, Why should physical presence be insisted upon????

Work from Home or at home at work place


I do understand that work from home is not possible when you are working in a manufacturing unit or you are doing a work which requires your physical presence at the work place.However if you are working out of your laptop, and the organisation is in a position to offer you the facility of home login, then I feel the work is more important than the workplace. Several multinational organizations operating in India have realized this, implemented it and found appreciable increase in productivity levels for the same man-hours and the efforts.



In fact in the recession hit United States and Europe, certain organizations are contemplating the implementation of the norm for everyone to work at home at least one day a week. This single step could raise productivity, save energy, decrease pollution, reduce traffic congestion, cut household expenses, increase quality of family life, and keep educated women in the work force.

In this fast moving and fast growing jet age, everything including technology, thinking, people, processes, and policies have changed to more dynamic pattern. Yet one thing that hasn’t changed and refuses to change is the rigid workplace of the last century. It is amazing in the digital age that most work is still associated with industrial age work rhythms and the symbolic chains that tie workers, knowledgeable and otherwise, to fixed locations. Flexible workplaces with flexible hours and days are long in coming. This I tell you is a very mild understatement in relation to the present situation. This is because of the business owners who while using latest in technology and machinery,are very primitive when it comes to work pattern. I have seen family managed conservative organisations managing to remain as small as thinkng even after years of existence They are of course encouraged by the overenthusiastic HR managers fresh from B-Schools, and yet to get into the unlearning process.

I can give a classic example of a Indian Corporate with more than hundred years of existence. The chairman of the corporate had his chamber at a location from where he could view the senior managers’ cars entering the building. He used to call the senior managers coming late and discuss with them.

A good one hour used to get involved in this exercise. One hour loss at senior management. Apart from this the other loss was that the senior managers used their time, resources and ingenuity to work ways to avoid detection. Leave alone the loss in productivity and optimization levels.If the attitude at the senior management is such just imagine what would percolate to the down line managers and thousands of workers in the organisation.

One thing is very clear. When the management is fixed mentally on the entry time, the employees are fixed on the exit time. Productivity and work take a back seat, tasks are left uncompleted, manager can no longer influence the workers to stay back and complete the tasks.Even if they do, the presence is only physical, the exit gate seems to be more proximal in their thoughts than the tasks in hand. Production and productivity suffer. Discipline at the cost of self extinction?, certainly not I hope. I would always manage with a little less discipline if it ensured a better cash flow for my organisation.

Now let us take a look at the situation in USA

Many U.S. cities have become commuter nightmares as urban sprawl sends people across longer distances in their cars every week day. According to the 2008 U.S. Census estimates, 84 percent of the U.S. population lives within 363 metropolitan areas that spill over central city boundaries and, in some cases, over state lines. Jobs within central business districts have been declining, while jobs outside a ten-mile ring have been growing. Vehicle miles traveled have increased twice as fast as population growth.

Now does this remind you of cities in India ? Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad,Mumbai, Chennai and of course “Oh Kolkata”.

Choosing how long to work and on what schedule has long showed productivity benefits. People are less stressed when they can adjust their hours or days to family or personal needs. A greater feeling of control is associated with more energy and better health, studies show, making those workers more productive. Some savvy senior executives stay out of their offices occasionally even when not traveling, because they get more done in a setting with no interruptions, at home.

For many working parents, the chance to work remotely is the primary way to achieve work-life balance. Many women leave high-powered corporate and professional careers when they have children, frequently starting their own businesses they can run from home, because there is no flexibility and no middle ground between the all-out grind at a workplace demanding physical presence or opting out. A norm of remote work for everyone would ease the strain.

Technology exists to make remote work feasible and effective. Cell phones have liberated people from desks. The need for high-speed network connections is another argument for universal broadband and wi-fi access, with tax deductibility or reimbursement to employees for the connections to their home, as IBM and many US multinationals do in India.

The barriers are the usual human ones. Without a culture of strong accountability, collaboration, trust and personal responsibility, remote work doesn’t work. That culture is missing in too many organizations. Managers don’t always know how to coordinate and communicate with people they do not see face to face; they must value the work product and not the face time. Leadership is important. People need clear goals, deadlines, and performance metrics.

I know there is a huge other side to this also, the disadvantages. I leave it to my friends to argue and debate. As of now, I thank all my friends for their patience and allowing me a few lines about my work.

Regards,

Shyamsunder Panchavati


Some of the earlier comments on this post from various forums.

Hello Shyamsunder,
Appreciate your insight. A position we both share.
In all of history, never before has communication devices and technology existed like the ones that exist today. This comment for example, physical location is becoming less important for the conveyance of information.
It has been my dream to enlist a ‘virtual’ workforce, void of physical constraints, and opportunity to embrace knowledge held by professionals in various locations, by the retired, physically challenged, and home workers to name a few.
It is my understanding that your question (captioned above) continues to be challenged, and the response will continue to weaken, to the point we all can work more remotely.
It will become the ‘norm’, help me re-engineer this future.
Change is in the air my friend.
-Harley

Shyam,
I see two separate and distinct separate issues being addressed in your article. First, are there drivers begging the facilitation of greater use of virtual work places. And second, is the specific workforce ready and able to adopt and accept responsibility for participationion the virtual workplace.
You aptly address the drivers for remote / virtual workplaces. I think most of us can identify with these issues and can draw from experience the many times we’ve been responsibly and productively engaged in working from remote sites. Although somewhat more elusive and greater challenge is in identifying the personality characteristics or traits of those who adapt to this model versus, what I see as the majority of individuals, those who need the structured workplace in order to remain engaged, productive and focused on their 8-10 hour daily assignments or unstructured tasks as they may be.
I’m not yet convinced that the 80-90 percent of deskbound workers are at the work maturity level at which they can thrive when working sans office. While automated call distributors insure that work is kept queued and measureable for remote call center personnel, the same is not true for knowledge workers or ‘meeting bound’ program team members.
I believe that driving success for this larger mass will come thru improved use of integrated video/telecommunications services and social networking tools which will spur an alternative social fabric to the office coffee station. The immediate next step being adoption and integration of these services into common work protocols.
Ron

We do a lot of “virtual” work and I find it that it is good to have it when you have very “proceduralized” work flow. Long project when all people know what they do etc. When nature of business is very dynamic we find it is very hard to have “virtual” work force.
Here is an example, one of our clients have a server performance problem that results in service unavailability. Server are up and down. When they down you need react right away and mulitple people have to work together to response quickly. If they all remote it is very inconvenient.
Posted by Michael Petrov

Many US companies are way behind in 21st Century management/HR with regards to the “work from home” opportunity that exists for both the company and the employee. Not all employees are equal in their job descriptions, skill sets or abilities – therefore, no outdated mandate should be given that no one can work from hom – when some can and should. I would greatly appreciate any further testimony from US that promotes the work from home opportunity.
I’m in sales – primarily by phone and email – there is absolutely no reason for me to drive 50 miles a day to come to an office when I can do the same job and work longer hours from my home office.
Any persuasive facts or thoughts that I can send along to my management?
Thank you.
Posted by Le Anne Dolan

photos











These photographs are from the from the developing world.The photographers deserve motivation for the excellent job they have done.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Top 50 CEOs


The Best-Performing CEOs in the World

Harvard Business Review 
With the focus on short-term corporate performance under fire, it’s more important than ever to take a long view of business leadership. These CEOs may not all be household names, but here’s an objective look at who delivered the top results over the long term.
 
A lot of people have blamed short-term thinking for causing our current economic troubles, which has set off a debate about what time window we should use to assess a CEO’s performance. Today boards of directors, senior managers, and investors intensely want to know how CEOs handle the ups and downs of running businesses over an extended period. Many executive compensation plans define the “long term” as a three-year horizon, but the real test of a CEO’s leadership has to be how the company does over his or her full tenure.
This article contains the first ranking that shows which CEOs of large public companies performed best over their entire time in office—or, for those still in the job, up until September 30, 2009. To compile our results, we collected data on close to 2,000 CEOs worldwide.
It may come as no shock that Steve Jobs of Apple tops the list. However, our ranking does contain a few surprises. You’ll see some relatively unknown faces at the top. The inverse is also true: Some obvious candidates in terms of reputation don’t make the top 50, which we’re printing in this issue—or even the top 100 or top 200. (To view the top 100 and access a list of the top 200, go to hbr.org/top-ceos.) In fact, our list overlaps very little with lists of the most-admired or highest-paid CEOs.




The Top 50 CEOs


1. Steve Jobs


Apple

1997–Present

United States

Information Technology

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 3,226%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 3,188%

Market Cap Change $150B

2. Yun Jong-Yong


Samsung Electronics

1996–2008

South Korea

Information Technology

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 1,559%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 1,458%

Market Cap Change $127B

3. Alexey B. Miller


Gazprom

2001–Present

Russia

Energy

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 2,032%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 2,427%

Market Cap Change $101B

4. John T. Chambers


Cisco Systems

1995–Present

United States

Information Technology

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 922%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 1,054%

Market Cap Change $152B

5. Mukesh D. Ambani


Reliance Industries

2002–Present

India

Energy

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 1,001%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 1,430%

Market Cap Change $72B

6. John C. Martin


Gilead Sciences

1996–Present

United States

Health Care

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 2,089%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 2,054%

Market Cap Change $39B

7. Jeffrey P. Bezos


Amazon.com

1996–Present

United States

Retail

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 4,592%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 4,586%

Market Cap Change $37B

8. Margaret C. Whitman


eBay

1998–2008

United States

Information Technology

Outsider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 1,434%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 1,368%

Market Cap Change $37B

9. Eric E. Schmidt


Google

2001–Present

United States

Information Technology

Outsider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 387%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 344%

Market Cap Change $101B

10. Hugh Grant


Monsanto

2003–Present

United States

Materials

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 684%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 572%

Market Cap Change $35B

11. Robert L. Tillman


Lowe’s

1996–2005

United States

Retail

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 459%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 456%

Market Cap Change $40B

12. William E. Greehey


Valero Energy

1997–2005

United States

Energy

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 613%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 525%

Market Cap Change $33B

13. Gareth Davis


Imperial Tobacco Group

1996–Present

United Kingdom

Consumer Goods & Services

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 937%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 638%

Market Cap Change $25B

14. William J. Doyle


PotashCorp

1999–Present

Canada

Materials

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 651%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 939%

Market Cap Change $24B

15. Benjamin Steinbruch


Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional

2002–Present

Brazil

Materials

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 2,337%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 3,360%

Market Cap Change $18B

16. Bart Becht


Reckitt Benckiser Group

1999–Present

United Kingdom

Consumer Goods & Services

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 402%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 364%

Market Cap Change $38B

17. Masahiro Sakane


Komatsu

2003–2007

Japan

Industrials

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 652%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 497%

Market Cap Change $28B

18. Terry Leahy


Tesco

1997–Present

United Kingdom

Retail

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 309%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 307%

Market Cap Change $47B

19. John W. Thompson


Symantec

1999–2009

United States

Information Technology

Outsider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 839%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 851%

Market Cap Change $19B

20. Graham Mackay


SABMiller

1997–Present

United Kingdom

Consumer Goods & Services

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 341%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 291%

Market Cap Change $38B

21. Mikael Lilius


Fortum

2000–2009

Finland

Utilities

Outsider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 768%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 964%

Market Cap Change $18B

22. Mikhail Prokhorov


Norilsk Nickel

2001–2007

Russia

Materials

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 260%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 739%

Market Cap Change $30B

23. Mark G. Papa


EOG Resources

1998–Present

United States

Energy

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 1,128%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 908%

Market Cap Change $17B

24. C. John Wilder


TXU

2004–2007

United States

Utilities

Outsider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 396%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 313%

Market Cap Change $31B

25. Frank Chapman


BG Group

2000–Present

United Kingdom

Energy

Outsider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 333%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 242%

Market Cap Change $50B

26. Paul Chisholm


Colt Telecom Group

1996–2001

United Kingdom

Telecommunications

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 1,923%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 1,770%

Market Cap Change $16B

27. David B. Snow, Jr.


Medco Health Solutions

2003–Present

United States

Health Care

Outsider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 418%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 396%

Market Cap Change $25B

28. Tomeo Kanbayashi


NTT Data

1995–1999

Japan

Information Technology

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 658%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 436%

Market Cap Change $21B

29. Chung Mong-Koo


Hyundai Motor

1998–Present

South Korea

Automobiles & Components

Outsider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 357%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 822%

Market Cap Change $21B

30. John C.S. Lau


Husky Energy

2000–Present

Canada

Energy

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 504%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 576%

Market Cap Change $21B

31. Stanley Fink


Man Group

2000–2007

United Kingdom

Financial Services

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 637%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 738%

Market Cap Change $18B

32. Antoine Zacharias


Vinci

1997–2006

France

Industrials

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 861%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 1,048%

Market Cap Change $16B

33. Juan Villalonga Navarro


Telefónica

1996–2000

Spain

Telecommunications

Outsider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 252%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 219%

Market Cap Change $127B

34. Harry Roels


RWE

2003–2007

Germany

Utilities

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 223%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 281%

Market Cap Change $52B

35. Charles Goodyear


BHP Billiton

2003–2007

United Kingdom

Materials

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 407%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 157%

Market Cap Change $103B

36. Matteo Arpe


Capitalia

2003–2007

Italy

Financial Services

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 322%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 392%

Market Cap Change $22B

37. Florentino Pérez Rodríguez


Grupo ACS

1997–Present

Spain

Industrials

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 536%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 751%

Market Cap Change $16B

38. Fujio Mitarai


Canon

1995–Present

Japan

Information Technology

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 292%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 226%

Market Cap Change $39B

39. Roy Gardner


Centrica

1997–2006

United Kingdom

Utilities

Outsider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 342%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 482%

Market Cap Change $19B

40. Thierry Desmarest


Total

1995–2007

France

Energy

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 261%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 169%

Market Cap Change $209B

41. Wang Jianzhou


China Mobile

2004–Present

China (Hong Kong)

Telecommunications

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 186%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 244%

Market Cap Change $138B

42. Fu Chengyu


CNOOC Ltd.

2003–Present

China (Hong Kong)

Energy

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 239%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 226%

Market Cap Change $46B

43. Mark C. Pigott


Paccar

1997–Present

United States

Industrials

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 696%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 705%

Market Cap Change $15B

44. William A. Osborn


Northern Trust

1995–2008

United States

Financial Services

Insider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 552%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 604%

Market Cap Change $15B

45. Craig S. Donohue


CME Group

2004–Present

United States

Financial Services

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 350%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 379%

Market Cap Change $19B

46. David Simon


Simon Property Group

1995–Present

United States

Financial Services

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 325%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 497%

Market Cap Change $18B

47. Larry C. Glasscock


WellPoint

1999–2007

United States

Health Care

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 240%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 203%

Market Cap Change $53B

48. A.J. Scheepbouwer


Royal KPN

2001–Present

Netherlands

Telecommunications

Insider CEO

MBA No

Country-Adjusted TSR 253%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 356%

Market Cap Change $23B

49. Fred Kindle


ABB

2005–2008

Switzerland

Industrials

Outsider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 262%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 205%

Market Cap Change $38B

50. David E.I. Pyott


Allergan

1998–Present

United States

Health Care

Outsider CEO

MBA Yes

Country-Adjusted TSR 609%

Industry-Adjusted TSR 610%

Market Cap Change $15B







Saturday, December 26, 2009

Peace of Mind



“In the final analysis, the hope of every person is simply peace of mind.”

Dalai Lama




Peace of mind is something everyone aspires for, and yet nobody seems to know when, where, and how to get it. Over a period of time, term “peace of mind” has undergone a transformation from a qualitative entity to a quantitative entity. People now a days speak in terms of “some peace of mind” to describe their aspiration or achievement. It can no longer be equated with the total tranquility of mind and the body. Peace of mind or lack of it can be the result of conquest over or conflict with self.

Now this seemingly complicated entity can be related to simple activities like retention and release, self protection or surrender. Or may be getting a bit out of touch with yourself? You are the problem and the solution. The destination is yourself, and the path lies within you.

Then how to go about it? What is retention and what is release? What is armour and what is surrender?
Frankly speaking, I am also an explorer, not a conqueror, still traversing, still finding my way out of the maze, knowing fully well that destination is not the culmination of the  journey, but the beginning of the next.  It is an oasis, alright, but chasing it is so fulfilling experience, that you never give up.

There is continuous stream of healing, love & good will flowing through us continuously. All we have to do is join it willingly & wholeheartedly, and make it a part of us.

How to go about it?

Release and heal what hurts mentally, physically, emotionally, & spiritually. Said easily than done, I know it. But then there is a way to it. We can always try.

It is important to build a relationship with your inner self. You have to discover yourself, and align with the spiritual source. Every one has inner guidance factor. We just need to get in touch with it.

Vulnerability is strength not a weakness as it gives us access to true strength. But it hardly happens. Right from our childhood, we build an Armour of self righteousness, which comes in the way of retention and acquisition of good values and release of the ones not so relevant for us.

Awareness of this is a big step forward towards freedom and ignorance of it is the cause of all our adulthood sufferings.

It is absolutely necessary to break free of the shackles of childhood learning, which portrays vulnerability as a weakness. It is just the opposite. It is surrender to love, which gives all the strength in the universe that comes from that – true strength. We need to be open to feel love. Vulnerability is openness. The greatest challenge in this life has always been to let down the walls of self-protection and release the energy that created them.

And may be when we implement this difficult but certainly impossible practice. We can feel peace of mind once again as an qualitative experience rather than quantative entity.

I would like to conclude with a marathi shlok. Samarth Ramdas prescription for eternal peace.



मना सज्जना भक्ती पंथेची जावे 

तरी श्री हरी पाविजे तो स्वभावे 
जनी निन्धीयते सर्व सोडूनी द्यावे 
जनी वन्द्यते सर्व भावे करावे 
(समर्थ रामदास )

(Oh Holy mind,you should proceed in the direction of devotion to god.Then you can attain divine blessings.The Act which attracts criticism from people, should not be pursued.the act which gets  praise from people and is liked by all should be pursued.)



Best wishes,


Shyam



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Al Gore at Copenhagen

Al Gore - Call for Action from Project Survival Media on Vimeo.

Telangana-Andhra problem now Interational News


Bid to Partition Indian State Leads to Political Paralysis  New York Times Article
Mahesh Kumar/Associated Press
Police arrested Lagadapati Rajagopal, a ruling party lawmaker from Vijayawada who was preparing to begin a high-profile hunger strike to protest the splitting of the state, in Hyderabad on Monday.

By JIM YARDLEY
Published: December 14, 2009

NEW DELHI — The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh sank into a contentious political paralysis on Monday as local lawmakers adjourned indefinitely without addressing a controversial resolution to divide the state.
Elsewhere in India, demands for statehood have intensified in several regions as the issue has mushroomed into a nationwide political tempest for the governing Congress Party.



In Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, the State Assembly adjourned Monday morning after shouting broke out and supporters of maintaining a unified state began waving banners.

The authorities moved to prevent potential confrontation in the streets after hundreds of pro-unity protesters were blocked from entering the capital city on Sunday and placed in police custody. Officers also denied permission for their leader, a lawmaker, to enter Hyderabad and start a hunger strike.

For the Congress Party, inundated with criticism of its handling of the situation, the turmoil began this month. A regional politician, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, staged a 10-day hunger strike demanding that the Congress Party fulfill a past commitment to pursue statehood for the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh. Thousands of pro-Telangana students demonstrated as Mr. Rao’s health began to deteriorate.

Late last Wednesday, India’s home minister announced that the central government would initiate the legislative process of creating a Telangana State. Mr. Rao ended his fast.

The Telangana statehood movement has existed for decades. Advocates say the region is deprived of equitable shares of resources, jobs, educational opportunities and other benefits.

But the government’s decision spurred a backlash in other regions of Andhra Pradesh that has steadily escalated. Indian news outlets reported over the weekend that protesters set two railroad stations on fire. Meanwhile, 130 members of the State Assembly tendered their resignations, though none have yet been accepted. Many of the resignations were from members of the Congress Party, threatening its majority status in the state government. News reports also suggested that as many as 90 people had started their own hunger strikes to prevent partition.

At some point, the Assembly is supposed to vote on a resolution for Telangana statehood. Though the central government can create a new state under its own authority, the process had been expected to begin at the state level.

Dharmana Prasada Rao, the state’s revenue minister, said Andhra Pradesh was now sharply polarized: Residents of Telangana want statehood while most people elsewhere oppose any division.

“We hope the central government will resolve the issue,” he said, adding that despite the controversy, the government was functioning. “The issue is very sentimental and serious for the people. It has long-term consequences for both sides.”

Late Monday, a Congress Party spokesman told the Indian news media that the central government would take no action on the issue until the Assembly in Andhra Pradesh passed a resolution calling for Telangana statehood. The Telangana situation has revived other statehood movements, even as the country’s powerful finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, has warned that only Telangana is on the table.


In the most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Mayawati has sent letters to the national government requesting that three new states be carved out of her state as well as a portion of the adjacent state of Madhya Pradesh. Her critics immediately accused her of opportunism and of trying to undermine the Congress Party to elevate her own Bahujan Samaj Party.

Farther east, in the state of West Bengal, advocates promoting a separate state for the Gorkhaland region have also been agitating. Advocates began a general strike in the region on Monday, and hunger strike campaigns are also under way.

Hari Kumar contributed reporting.





Pakistan Reported to Be Harassing U.S. Diplomats

Pakistan Reported to Be Harassing U.S. Diplomats  New York Times Article


By JANE PERLEZ and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: December 16, 2009


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Parts of the Pakistani military and intelligence services are mounting what American officials here describe as a campaign to harass American diplomats, fraying relations at a critical moment when the Obama administration is demanding more help to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda.


One of the many police checkpoints in Islamabad. American diplomats say they face unnecessary searches of their vehicles.

The campaign includes the refusal to extend or approve visas for more than 100 American officials and the frequent searches of American diplomatic vehicles in major cities, said an American official briefed on the cases.

The problems affected military attachés, C.I.A. officers, development experts, junior level diplomats and others, a senior American diplomat said. As a result, some American aid programs to Pakistan, which President Obama has called a critical ally, are “grinding to a halt,” the diplomat said.

American helicopters used by Pakistan to fight militants can no longer be serviced because visas for 14 American mechanics have not been approved, the diplomat said. Reimbursements to Pakistan of nearly $1 billion a year for counterterrorism have been suspended because the last of the American Embassy’s five accountants left the country this week after his visa expired.

“There’s an incredible disconnect between what they want of us and the fact we can’t get the visas,” the diplomat said.

Pakistani officials acknowledged the situation but said the menacing atmosphere resulted from American arrogance and provocations, like taking photographs in sensitive areas, and a lack of understanding of how divided Pakistanis were about the alliance with the United States.

American and Pakistani officials declined to be identified while speaking about the issues because of their senior positions and the desire not to further inflame tensions.

The campaign comes after months of rising anti-American sentiment here and complaints by the military that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari has grown too dependent on a new $7.5 billion, five-year aid plan from Washington.

It also appears to be an attempt to blunt the planned expansion of the United States Embassy to 800 Americans from 500 in the next 18 months, growth that American officials say is necessary to channel the expanded American assistance.

“They don’t want more Americans here,” another American diplomat said. “They’re not sure what the Americans are doing. It’s pretty pervasive.”

The harassment has grown so frequent that American officials said they viewed it as a concerted effort by parts of the military and intelligence services that had grown resentful of American demands to step up the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Though the United States has been sending large amounts of military assistance to the Pakistani Army, and helping its premier spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, the campaign shows the ambivalence, even “hatred” toward the United States in those quarters, the American official said.
A Pakistani security official, who has kept a tally of many of the incidents, was not sympathetic, saying the Americans had brought on the problems.

“Unfortunately, the Americans are arrogant,” the Pakistani security official said. “They think of themselves as omnipotent. That’s how they come across.”

For instance, he said, the Pakistani police were not harassing American diplomats as they drove up to checkpoints, but rather were responding to provocations by American officials.
He cited a recent report in some Pakistani newspapers that an American diplomat had been taking photographs in a military area of the city of Lahore.

The reports were false, an American Embassy spokesman said. He said the suspected diplomat, a technical support officer, was not carrying a camera.

In another instance, the Pakistani security official said, Americans in an S.U.V. last week fled after the police tried to search their car at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Islamabad, the capital.
The embassy spokesman denied that Americans had fled the checkpoint. “Nonsense, diplomats don’t run away,” he said.

The searching of American diplomatic vehicles at the many checkpoints in the cities has become one of the biggest irritants.

Because diplomatic license plates registered to the embassy would provide an easy target for militants, the Americans reached an accord some time ago with Pakistan’s government that their official plates would be carried inside the car, the spokesman said.

But the absence of plates left the American cars vulnerable to searches at checkpoints, he said. Under international conventions diplomatic cars are not subject to searches, and American diplomats were instructed not to permit searches beyond opening the trunk, the spokesman said.

The Pakistani security official said, “We are in a state of war that calls for extraordinary measures.” His vehicle is searched every morning he goes to the office in Islamabad, and Americans should expect the same, he said.

He also said the Americans should not be surprised about the visa problem. But the issue is now affecting Pakistan’s own interests, American officials said.

At least 135 American diplomats have been refused extensions on their visas, the senior American diplomat said, leaving some sections of the embassy operating at 60 percent of capacity.

One of the most harmful consequences, the diplomat said, is the scaling back of helicopter missions by the Frontier Corps paramilitary troops fighting the Taliban because of a lack of trained American mechanics.
Much of the heightened suspicions about American diplomats appears to revolve around persistent stories in the Pakistani press about the presence of the American security company Blackwater, now called Xe Services, in Pakistan.

The embassy has denied that Xe operates in Pakistan. But those statements have collided with reports that Xe operatives worked for the C.I.A. to load missiles onto drones used to kill Qaeda militants in the tribal areas.
The public distrust toward American officials has led many American diplomats to keep a low profile, and adopt a bunker mentality, American diplomats acknowledge. Americans are warned by security advisers to steer clear of restaurants and shopping areas.

The skittishness between the sides was put aside Wednesday when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, was taken on a helicopter tour of the South Waziristan tribal area by the Pakistani Army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, to show what the Pakistanis had achieved against the Taliban.

No Pakistani or American reporter was taken along, a sign the Pakistanis preferred to keep the American help there quiet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Texting, Tweeting and technology sending you toward a (Body) system crash?









This is a Stanford University publication 
By
Cecile Andrews & Jane Rothsein   






Texting, Tweeting and technology sending you toward a system crash?


Is modern-day multitasking and materialism maxing out your bandwidth? Cecile Andrews, author of Less is More, and Jane Rothstein, LCSW, coordinator of environmental behavior change in the Health Improvement Program explain how the “less is more” approach can help us regain our lives, find joy and feel more deeply.

BW: What makes modern life so stressful?

JR: We are all trying to do too many things in too little time. And, we think we should be able to do it all. Part of the reason we feel this way is because technology allows us to do things so quickly. So, we have developed the notion that we should be available and productive 24/7.


CA: We’re going too fast, we’re doing too much and we’re spending too much. Depression and anxiety have spiked. As a result of our behaviors, we’re destroying the planet, undermining our health and undermining the common good.

BW: Let's talk about pace. Should we learn to control the speed of our lives?

JR: The soul needs slowness. Being connected to nature every day can help slow the pace because it is soothing and has slower rhythms. Also, we should take the time to do things the old-fashioned way sometimes, like walking instead of driving or picking up the phone instead of e-mailing.

CA: Each one of us can learn to rush less. We can reduce our multitasking. We can learn to hang out and move in a leisurely fashion. We can take our time, enjoying the moment. Americans mistakenly believe that if they’re rich they’ll be happy. But after a certain level, more income does not bring more happiness. In fact, the pursuit of money can interfere with the most important ingredient of happiness: ties to other people.

BW: And now, content. Are we accumulating too much stuff?

CA: Our obsession with possessions undermines our lives in many ways. First, we go into debt. Until the arrival of the recent recession, the average American’s savings rate had plunged to zero. Next, in order to pay for our stuff, we’re forced to accept long work hours. Finally, buying and managing stuff takes time!
Over the last several years our homes have doubled in size, giving us that much more space to fill, clean and supervise. All of this takes us away from more important things, such as connection and creativity.

BW: What role is technology playing in some of these concerns?

JR: It has sanitized the transmission of information by eliminating aspects of human warmth such as voices, expressions and emotions. Technology has also changed the pace of our interaction: We are getting too much information and not enough time to metabolize it. As a result of being able to click on links which immediately take us on to another webpage, and then another, our ability to concentrate has sometimes suffered erosion.

BW: What practical advice can you offer those of us who feel stressed on a regular basis?

CA: There are no simple answers to feeling stressed! Yes, we can learn to slow down, meditate, eat well, exercise and get more sleep. But, we need systemic change. Working to create a culture in which we care about the common good is the best stress reducer there is. We need more laughter and conversation—more picnics, dances, parties and gatherings in the park. We need to walk in our neighborhoods and stop and chat; we need more potlucks and book clubs and gardening clubs. At the heart of all change must be the experience of the joyful community  

JR: Set realistic limits on what you can do. Learn to say “no” to some things. Schedule time to be outside and defend that time on your calendar. Use e-mail filters to prioritize your inbox. Ask that people call you instead of e-mail. And, when possible, find a time to unplug completely.

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Capacity Building - Development

The Nation

US, India want to grab our nukes: Baloch
Published: December 14, 2009  The Nation
LAHORE - The US and India want to grab Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal after proving this country as a failed state, Secretary General Jama’at-e-Islami Liaquat Baloch said here Sunday.
Addressing a public meeting in connection with JI campaign against US-India complicity in Township area, he said the US was planning to develop India as the regional power so as to counter China and it had destabilised Afghanistan to establish its hegemony in the region. However, he was confident that the US would also be defeated in Afghanistan like Britain and Soviet Russia.
Liaquat Baloch said after every terrorist activity, the ministers put the blame on Taliban and sought Fatwas from the Ulema but they did not talk of those being killed by US drone attacks and the bombing by the Pak army. He said it was the unanimous decree of the Pakistani Ulema that suicide attacks were against humanity and Islamic teachings.
The JI leader said President Zardari was continuing Pervez Musharraf’s policies in total disregard of the public mandate in the February mandate, which called for a change. Terming President Zardari as NRO affected, he said President Zardari, Sharif Brothers, the ANP and the MQM were advancing the US agenda.
He said the senior officials in Foreign Ministry and the law enforcing agencies were blaming India for the terrorist activities but the rulers did not dare to name that country. Similarly, US private agency Blackwater was carrying out terrorism in different parts of the country and its vehicles were being caught along arms but were released on interference by the US consulate.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Nuclear Liability Bill Cap on compensation level

In the 25th year of the world's worst industrial disaster, India is rushing a bill that may seriously compromise the safety and security of its people in case of an accident at a nuclear plant, according to a report on the proposed Nuclear Liability Bill prepared by Greenpeace India. Senior advocate of the SC and former attorney general Soli Sorabjee, who was asked by the NGO to give his opinion on the report, has slammed the bill, calling it "anti-people" and "anti constitutional" as it proposes to "cap the level of compensation at $450 million (Rs 2,500 crore) in the event of an accident at a nuclear facility".

Compensation over and above this amount would be borne by the Indian government. The responsibility for paying this compensation will rest on the operator and not the supplier or foreign companies building and installing reactors in India, according to Greenpeace sources.

By capping the level of compensation at $450 million, the report says, the government has given a license to "foreign companies like Frances Areva SA, Russias Rosatom Corp and US giants GE and Westinghouse to reap huge profits by setting up nuclear reactors and selling their technologies, but they will not be required to pay compensation in case of a nuclear accident at their plants".

Sorabjee has called the bill a big blow to the interest of people of India. "There is no justification for capping nuclear liability, as is sought to be done. Any such move will be in defiance of the SC judgments and will be contrary to the interest of people of India and their fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution," Sorabjee says, quoting the SC judgment in MC Mehta vs Union of India (1987), which said that "in case of accidents occurring in plants run by enterprises which are engaged in a hazardous or inherently dangerous activity that poses a potential threat to the health and safety of persons such enterprises applying the Polluter Pays Principle owe an absolute and non-delegable duty to ensure that no harm results to anyone."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rotten Tomato misses Palin hits Police Officer




Political history is not usually made on a second-floor balcony in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
But that's where 33-year-old Jeremy Paul Olson lost it Monday. Observing the lines and hoopla attending former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's book-signing at the mall's Barnes & Noble, Olson lobbed not one but two tomatoes in the direction of the former Republican vice presidential candidate.
Instead he hit a police officer and was arrested for disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer. Gawker called the Bloomington jail and talked to "a bored-sounding officer ... apparently indifferent to the feat of produce-based heroics." The site added, "If anyone has information on the tomato-wielding Real American Hero Jeremy Paul Olson, please email us. Who is this man? What motivated him to throw tomatoes at Sarah Palin? And most importantly: How could he miss!?
Palin, who has already sold more than 1 million copies of "Going Rogue," kept on autographing, with First Dude Todd Palin at her side. Certainly her fans ignored any sign of trouble -- lining up in freezing weather before the mall doors opened at 5 a.m.

-- Johanna Neuman

Prof. Hans Rosling on TED

Monday, December 7, 2009

Obama Nobel Acceptance Speech



President Obama's message in Oslo should be what the United States ought to expect of itself -- and of others.

Obama's toughest foreign-policy challenges in 2010 lie at home. He has to sell and sustain a renewed commitment to the war in Afghanistan, bring Congress to meaningful action on climate change and usher critical arms control and nuclear test ban treaties through the Senate. So, while a Nobel Peace Prize seems the occasion to address an international audience, he must use this opportunity to make the case to his domestic constituency on what the United States must do to confront the three great present challenges to world peace: nuclear proliferation, climate change and the allure of radical Islam.

To be convincing at home, he must also be plain about the limits on what the world should expect from us. U.S. leadership is plainly necessary, but these are global struggles. The United States must act to restrain carbon emissions, and so must India. Washington has to rebalance its policies to help forge an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Arab leaders bear an equal responsibility to adjust theirs. The U.S. commitment to put out the fires that threaten the world in Pakistan and Afghanistan can succeed only with the help of NATO partners and a willingness by China to shoulder an equal burden there. U.S. efforts to avoid a nuclear Iran must be matched by Russia's if they are to work.

Shashi Tharoor on Prez.Obama's Af-Pak speech



Saturday, December 5, 2009

Employment Situation in November


From The White House Blog

Today's employment report was the most hopeful sign yet that the stabilization of financial markets and the recovery in economic growth may be leading to improvements in the labor market.
Payroll employment declined 11,000 in November.  This is a dramatic improvement from the decline of 597,000 in November 2008 and 741,000 in January 2009.  It is by far the closest we have been to stable employment since the recession began almost two years ago.  Furthermore, the employment loss in both September and October was revised down substantially, with the result that employment as of October is nearly 160,000 higher than was reported last month.  As was true in October, the largest employment gains in November were in temporary help services, which is often a leading indicator of labor demand.  21,000 jobs were also added in state and local public education.  Both the work week and aggregate hours increased, another early sign of labor market healing.

The unemployment rate, which had risen to 10.2% in October, declined to 10.0% in November.  This decline primarily reflects an increase in the number employed, as measured by the household survey.  Despite the welcome decline, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high.  This underscores the need for the responsible actions to jumpstart private-sector job creation that the President highlighted at yesterday’s Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth at the White House.
There are many bumps in the road ahead.  The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and subject to substantial revision.  Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.  But, it is clear we are moving in the right direction.